Call for update on work at ‘dangerous’ junction

Call for update on work at ‘dangerous’ junction

5 December 2018

ROADS officials have been urged to confirm a start date for a scheme aimed at addressing road safety and congestion issues at one of the district’s most busiest roundabouts in Newcastle.

The Department of Infrastructure confirmed earlier this year that it is planning to create a new dedicated filter lane at the Dundrum Road roundabout.

This will enable drivers entering the resort from the Dundrum direction who wish to access the Castlewellan Road, to do so without causing major tailbacks, leaving two existing lanes for the exclusive use of traffic heading into the centre of the town.

Roads officials have not yet fully costed the scheme, but have confirmed they will require to shave off a section of land at side of the roundabout to provide the new link road which they are confident can significantly reduce congestion.

Officials confirmed recently that the work will start before the end of the financial year, but Mournes councillor Willie Clarke is insisting they provide a definitive date.

Road safety and traffic congestion at the Dundrum Road roundabout is a major issue for the people of Newcastle and is consistently a hot topic of conversation on social media.

There have been a number of near misses at pedestrian crossings on either side of the roundabout with people fearful that it could only be a matter of time before someone is seriously injured at this part of the town.

Several people took to social media to vent their anger and frustration at the lack of progress to address safety concerns after a near miss last Friday when a woman and her young children were crossing the Dundrum Road side of the roundabout and almost struck by a car.

Cllr Clarke, who has welcomed plans to overhaul the layout of the roundabout, said it was vital the scheme is delivered as quickly as possible. 

He also believes that a number of the motorists who have almost collided with pedestrians are local and need to slow down and exercise greater caution and awareness.

“The safety of all road users at this location is critically important and there is a need to start work on the planned upgrade as soon as possible,” declared Cllr Clarke. “There is an urgent requirement to replace the out-dated zebra crossing with a puffin lights crossing encorporating traffic lights which will require vehicles to stop.”

The local politician confirmed he has asked the district’s most senior roads official, Simon Richardson, to confirm when contractors will be on site.

“The existing zebra crossing is dangerous and I am contacted by concerned residents recalling near misses on a weekly basis. Many of those are mothers who have young children whose lives are being placed in danger by motorists failing to stop as they cross a particularly busy road,” he continued.

“This is a very busy junction and action needs to be taken before there is a fatality. The safety concerns have increased following the reconfiguration of the road layout at this part of the town when a slip road linking the Shimna and Dundrum roads allowing vehicles to access Donard Street was closed. This simply increased the volume of traffic using the main roundabout.”

Though pleased work is programmed to start on a major safety upgrade, he said it was important a definitive date was provided.

He added: “Lives are being put at risk and this is an extremely serous situation. I would appeal to drivers to approach the two crossing points on either side of the roundabout with care and reduce their speed.

“Roads officials are acutely aware of the problems at the roundabout which handles a huge volume of traffic. It is important they inform the people of Newcastle when the planned upgrade will start. It must happen sooner rather than later.”